The No. 2 seed NMSU Aggies defeated the No. 7 seed Seattle Redhawks, 70-68 in the WAC mens quarterfinal bracket at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. They Aggies survive and advance to take on No. 6 seed Cal State Bakersfield, Friday, March 14th at 9:30p.m. (MT) in the WAC semifinal. The winner advances to the championship game on Saturday night to be broadcast on ESPNU.
The Aggies were fueled by sophomore Sim Bhullar with a game high 24 points and 14 rebounds. Clutch play and baskets by junior D.K. Eldridge solidified the Aggies play. Eldridge finished the night with 19 points and was perfect, 3 for 3, from behind the arc.
A key stat in the Aggie victory was their free throw shooting where the Aggies shot 25 of 29 (86%) and hit key free throws down the stretch.
In the post-game interview, coach Menzies pointed out the key stat in the free throw shooting department. "Our guys showed heart in the second half and hitting free throws could be the difference of the game."
Sloppy play hurt the Aggies early by turning the ball over to the Redhawks sixteen times, ten in the first half. The rebounding battle was fairly even, crediting the shorter Redhawks. The Aggie big men were credited with eight blocks on the night.
Aggie junior guard Daniel Mullings was held scoreless in the first half. Mullings finished the night with only 8 points on 1 of 7 shooting.
The Aggies trailed by six points in the second half but then went on a 11 to 4 run. The Redhawks behind the sharp-shooting skills of junior guard, Isiah Umipig, who finished with 25 points, kept the Redhawks in the game.
The game eventually came down to a single possession by the Redhawks, down by 3 with seconds to go in the game. Seattle dribbled the ball down court where Aggie coach Marvin Menzies elected to foul. The Redhawks hit the first free throw, missed the second, got the rebound but was unable to convert to tie the game. The Aggies escaped with the narrow victory.